6.27.2009

Bicycles and Knee Pain


I've been so lucky regarding comfort over the years on my bike. Really lucky. Comes with having had excellent tutelage as a novice, in my opinion. I worked for Bob"The cocksucker"White when I first started out.

That jackass had a top-notch crew working for him when I was there. Some of you may remember Bob's Bicycle Center when they were down a ways on SE Division where the Bike Gallery is now. Most of you won't remember that Bob's moved into that location from a little space adjacent to a Taco-Bell a little further up SE Division at 126th.
I worked with John Pooley, and Ken Lidster, and Gary-something. I always remember Gary because he was a certified Hawn mechanic. No seriously. Pooley was a decent wrench too, and Lidster was a former CAT 1/2 that has forgotten more about ergonomics on a bicycle than most men will ever know. He was a stickler for fitting way before it became kitschy.

The amount of time I've spent in hospitals from bike accidents surpasses anyone I've ever met. I broke my neck, all 24 ribs, sternum, left clavicle, tore off every finger-nail and toe-nail, and removed so much skin from my back I had to have transplant grafts, all in one fairly mundane spill on a training ride outside of Chico, CA. I was down there for the Pioneer century.

Another time I was so beer-drunk leaving the Horse Brass one night that I literally could not walk. Once my bro, and buds, got me on my bike I was fine. Should say something about my bike skills when I can do it better than I can walk. Anyway, I was crossing SE Division at 45th about 3:00 a.m. that morning and blew the stop-sign there. I was northbound on 45th and was subsequently struck by a car that just flat didn't see me. Not so much as a skid-mark. Running stop-signs = bad.

Turns out the driver and occupants of the car were all off-duty EMTs, or I wouldn't be writing this right now. Best part was the driver blew a .38. He might have been drunker than I was. I had no heart-rate for 92 minutes that time.
That car hit me so hard that when my unhelmeted-head struck the the roof-line, right where it met the windshield, air compression inside the car from the resultant dent my head was making, actually blew all of the windows out of the car.

The police report said that they knocked my floppy, drunk body 400 feet up SE Division. Which is how I actually sustained most of my injuries. Had I been sober, or wearing a helmet either one, I'd have died that morning. Can you say, "Counter-intuitive"?


So, when I fell from what, 30ft, in the air, I landed all cock-eyed on one butt cheek. Broke my pelvis clear in half vertically, broke all 24 ribs, broke my sternum, broke both femurs, broken neck, broke all the fingers on my right hand, and was in intensive care for 9 days. That's not even the worst crash I've had.

I didn't start writing this post to reminisce about the glory days. I found I've been having a hell of a time getting the saddle-height adjusted properly on the bike I'm riding now. Furthermore, I've been noticing some knee pain develop and I'm real leery of knee pain. The type I'm experiencing is that which feels sort of like it's up under the knee-cap a bit, and feels like my knee wants to pop, but won't.

Now, I'll dick around enough in the saddle on a ride to cause occasional soreness. My worst habits come form 12 years as a bicycle messenger. I always wanna be pushing back off the end of the saddle and mash. Which isn't even my style either, when I raced I was a spin god. I came to cycling as an accomplished distance competitor, so aerobically I was in top shape, and high-cadence was fine with me. Alas, all the years of messengering ingrains those lazy habits of just always mashing 'em.

So, when my knee pain started this time around, I wasn't too concerned. However, I am quickly learning that my pronated instep can cause problems on a bike. I had no idea. Wouldn't you know, it can cause the exact kind of knee pain, and subsequent injury, that I'm going through.
I ride with plastic MTB toe clips, so my street shoes fit. Turns out, I might want to rethink the kind of mileage I put in like this, because it is almost surely that supinated, pro-nated instep I mastered as a distance runner causing this. I had assumed I had enough float in there to not worry, but now I'm thinking that is in, and of itself, a problem. Word to the wise. Proper equipment folks. Proper equipment in perfect working order on a bike that is perfectly adjusted to fit you.

So, I found this site over yonder and felt it was a good resource for the novice. That's where I nabbed that nifty .jpg. If you go and spend a cagillion dollars for one of these fitting-things around town, that's on you. I'm certainly in no position to give advice that might get me sued, but I personally find that to be a bit over the top.

I've been pretty lucky. All these injuries, including a straddle injury you don't even wanna know about, and a laundry list more, and I still find the saddle of a bicycle quite comfy. Really bugs me to be feeling it in the knees though, and I strongly urge every one to listen to their body, and what it's trying to tell you. Mine's telling me to quit being lazy and stay seated in the saddle properly. It's also telling me to quit being such an asshole so somebody will hire me, and let me afford a pair of damn cleats.

No comments:

Download the Randall O'Toole Policy Analysis

My shared Google Reader Items - Be sure to follow the 'view all' link